This is the story of Tiffany and her 5 children. The Tricycle Collective successfully helped her win her house in auction for only $500.
I moved to this house from Farnsworth and I’ve been living there for approximately about a year. And it was a blessing when the landlord Ms. Suzie called me and told me she was moving to Oregon. She said “I don’t want much, I don’t ask for much.”
I knew there were minor things, and her son was autistic so there were things that we messed up but I didn’t mind. I already knew her, I trusted her. Like, she used to take my kids Trick-or-Treating, she would hold little bakesales. She was a real nice woman. So it just shocked me when this all happened.
Up until about 2 months ago we talked about once, twice every month. But once I got that letter from the Treasurer in my mailbox, I knew. I talked to her, she said “I already know about that, I’ll take care of that, forget about it.” I called her, it wasn’t even two weeks later, her phone number changed. I wrote her, she has not wrote back.
That just let me know she hadn’t paid the taxes. So now the house is in foreclosure. Once I told her about the foreclosure, I guess that was her cue to just say “forget it” because I never heard from her again.
I was born and raised in Detroit. All my kids were born in Detroit, all but my son, he’s the only one born in Alabama. He’s the last one to cry. We moved down to Alabama because my mama was sick, she had cancer.
We lived in Alabama 4 years until my mother passed away. She wanted to be cremated back up here.
And my kids they can’t stand that country life. It’s just a big field down there with one double-wide trailer and some cows and chickens across the street. They can’t deal with that.
But my main reason to come back was to care for my kids’ grandmother, Mama Candy. She was really really sick- my girls’ father. He asked me if I would care for her. She passed away in front of me, laying in the bed, I was changing her. So after that, I didn’t want to be there any more, there was just too many bad memories and other situations.
So it was a blessing when Ms. Suzie the landlord was relocating to Oregon to be wither family.
I was sending her money through the mail, every month, $200 a month. And on top of that I was supposed to take care of the house and other bills. I was paying her DTE payment plan- $150 every month.
She left the electric and stuff on in her name. And then I found out that was a boogidyboo. Cause I switched it over in my name and found she had it hooked up illegally. So I was sending that money in vain! I figured she was a, you know, honest person.
I just feel like, for this house to be in foreclosure, it’s unfair. We’ve put in so much.
I have painted, I keep the grass cut. I have done all kinds of little fixes. Right now I’m in the process of getting a furnace put in. Not to mention, there’s a garden 3 doors down from me. They left all the seeds. Let’s just say it’s a community garden that I’m in charge of.
I have kept up on my side of the deal, it’s unfair to me, to my babies.
I really don’t want to lose this house because I have made this house home. My kids love their bedrooms, they just love the house and the neighborhood. Simple.
They have friends in the neighborhood. Everybody, everybody. There’s one lady on the corner, they just call her “Grandma.” She bakes cookies and cakes and just knock on the door and leave them on the porch. The guy who stays across the street from me, he’ll drop me off if I need it, when the girls are in school he’ll take Brandon out or to McDonalds or whatever. The whole block, it’s like we’re family.
It’s a blessing because, Ms. Waits, their principal stays just around the corner. So it’s like, in the mornings, I can’t get them to school or I know they’re gonna be late, I call her and she says “girl get them kids ready.”
So I think that is a blessing- their school isn’t even in the neighborhood, their school is downtown. But a bus comes to pick them up from 6 mile and Seymore, only 5 minutes away. So that was a shock to me because the bus didn’t come to us when we were living closer to town.
There was an incident not to long ago, about a month ago I was sitting on the porch and moth just flew into my ear. And when I say I had the whole block, everybody, all the women on the block. They were pouring peroxide up the side of my head. They cared.
When I didn’t have a babysitter, they help. When I had to go to St. Johns to the hospital for my girl, they watch my son. I mean, I love it.
It’s just, I really do hope it works out.
My girls’ father, he’s not on child support because he does give us whatever they need. He cares for us. And his [indicating Brandon] father, he’s paralyzed from the waist down so he knows there’s not much he can do. When I left Alabama, he supported it. He knew I was taking care of my girls’ grandmother. There’s plenty of communication. They are no dead-beat dads, believe me when I say that.
I also do hair. I made some of my own money. I don’t receive assistance, I don’t receive cash for my kids.
I’m a mother with 4 children but I’d put him in daycare to get a job. If I had to get a job, I would do anything. This past year and a half is the first time since I was 15 that I didn’t have a job, but I was caring for Mama Candy. I’m talking about long steady jobs. I worked a Papa Romano’s my whole high school years. I worked at Bruegger’s Bagels on Royal Oak for 6 years. I know how to keep a job.
Ain’t nothing like your own money. I appreciate their fathers but even they know I like my own money. I like to go shopping me and my kids. Purses and barrettes and stuff like that. I like to take my kids out to eat, you know Dave and Busters, stuff like that. Do something.
I own a house in Alabama. I pay the taxes on every year. My mother left it to me and I keep up on those taxes. Yes Ma’am. Every year. I send a money order for $350 down to the Butler County Court. That’s the difference though, down there you only pay the taxes once. But I keep up on those taxes.
If I lost the place. I think I’d go crazy. Every time I think about it I just want to cry a little bit. Because, seemed like I’ve helped everybody, for a long time, I don’t have much to give but I swear I bend over backwards to help everybody. And just the thought of me and my kids being on the street, it scares me.
Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t want to break down like that. That’s one of the reasons why I care so much about this house. Everything I put into it, washing machine, dryer, refrigerator. That’s why, when I got that letter, I just broke down and cried. Especially when she didn’t call me back and I knew.
I have 2 deep freezers. And I’m not one of those people who are gonna sell it, I can’t get with that because what’s gonna happen when we got nothing to eat?
I just think about my babies. I think about my babies without a roof over their head. My kids are really happy. They are really happy. I want to stay in this house forever. I have big plans for it.
To read more stories of families on the front lines of foreclosure, visit the testimonials page.